Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Kennedy Center awards have been handed out and the concert celebrating the gifts the award winners have given to America will be shown in a two-hour prime-time special at 8 p.m., Dec. 29 on CBS.

One of Sumner High School's gifts to the world will stand center stage with rock star Bruce Springsteen; actor Robert De Niro; comedian, writer and producer Mel Brooks; and jazz pianist Dave Brubeck.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: During an interview with the Beacon last summer, noted civil rights lawyer Frankie Freeman said she was ready to wind down, take life easy after more than a half century of civil rights work and public and private appointments. But duty has called once again, and she couldn't say no. She seldom can when the issue involves education and city schools.

Elsie Roth shows off a book that describes her father's heroism during World War I, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Mary Delach Leonard | 2009 St. Louis Beacon photo

If you visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington this Veterans Day, chances are you will not see the Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Army Sgt. William Shemin for heroism in France during World War I.

Shemin was awarded the medal -- the nation's second-highest military decoration -- for leaping from a trench into heavy machine gun and rifle fire to carry three wounded comrades to safety.

Vito Comporato, right, and another worker during the construction of the Gateway Arch.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Archives

On the morning of Oct. 28, 1965, ironworker Vito Comporato peered down from atop the Gateway Arch and watched what looked like hundreds of ants gathering on the riverfront 630 feet below.

There were Boy Scout ants with American flags and busloads of the city's schoolchildren ants.

The mayor ant was down there, too, probably with the rest of the VIP ants on a dignitary platform the size of a twig.

Bernar Venet, 2 Arcs x 4, 230.5 Degree Arc x 5. The pink sign on the recent photo The safety of children who come to Citygarden is the sole responsibility of their caregivers. Playing in or near or on sculpture is inherently dangerous.
Rachel Heidenry and Donna Korando

Philanthropist M. Peter Fischer didn't mince words at the St. Louis Award ceremony Thursday. Do the Gateway Mall right, he said, and keep the hands of commercial developers and politicians off it.

Fischer, who is the 82nd person to receive the award, is known for elusiveness rather than garrulousness. It was a surprise to many that he was willing not only to accept the St. Louis Award for his philanthropy but also that he was also going to receive it in a public ceremony.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 24, 2008 - The excerpt below is from Letters from the Editor: Reflections on Journalism and Life, a posthumous collection of William Woo's letters (University of Missouri Press, 2007.) During his 10 years as a journalism professor at Stanford University - after he left St. Louis and before his death in April 2006 - Woo sent his students a weekly letter about journalism’s enduring values. Here are his Thanksgiving thoughts: 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 24, 2008 - Every year around this time, a gang of grandpas head into the cold depths of Rock Spring Park in Alton, past routes they've traveled daily since September, past wooden displays they've built and miles of dark Christmas lights. 

Christmas Wonderland first twinkled in the park about 16 years ago, started by a local grandpa who was joined by others eager to do something for the community.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - I just resisted suggesting that “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman” is “recommended for anyone who’s interested in architecture or modernism” because it is commendable for so much more of us than the modernist fans.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - It was 1969 when the Granda family from south St. Louis rolled out onto Interstate 44 in their station wagon to deliver young Michael to Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. Within five years, the young man was a founding member of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, an internationally famous band with a hit record.

SLIFF: '1000 Journals'

Nov 20, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 20, 2008 - This charming, easygoing documentary recounts the development of a quiet project that started in San Francisco with a young man self-named Someguy.

In the summer of 2000, he decided to circulate 1,000 blank journals that he had personally decorated with individual covers. He placed them in public places, obvious and odd, and invited people to use them, share them, pass them all around, and send them back when full. He also put up a website (www.1000journals.com ) and tried to keep track of the results.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 20, 2008 - I spent part of a recent Saturday afternoon at Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers in Clayton. As the auction proceeded, I realized that, until quite very recently, the objects on the block wouldn't have been considered worthy enough to build an entire auction weekend around.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 20, 2008 - In 1992, when filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger collaborated on a film of A.E. Hotchner's "King of the Hill ," an autobiographical account of growing up during the Depression, they brought their cameras to the city streets where Hotchner had actually spent his childhood, right here in St. Louis. Much had changed in five decades, but enough of the past remained to add an authenticity for Soderbergh and company (with a cast that included Spalding Gray, Karen Allen and Elizabeth McGovern).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 20, 2008 - When you read about the stories that "A Powerful Noises" focuses on, you might wonder why you'd like to go. 

As the movie's website says, "Hanh is an HIV-positive widow in Vietnam. Nada, a survivor of the Bosnian war. And Jacqueline works the slums of Bamako, Mali" as a community organizer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 19, 2008 - Those providing meals and Thanksgiving fixings to people in need say that they will have many more mouths to feed this year. But they're hopeful that there will be plenty of turkey, stuffing and other holiday goodies to go around. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 19, 2008 - After an idyllic stay in pristine natural beauty, among critters and pine trees and dear friends, most people would think that returning to their everyday lives would mean a return to civilization.

Not Moe.

WW II planes still fly - with a lot of TLC

Nov 19, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 19, 2008 - Amid the cornfields of rural St. Charles County, at a former World War II flight training station, air men and women of a later generation carry on for the cause with a small fleet of historic aircraft. Their mission: preserve, protect and promote vintage planes as symbols of patriotism during that critical period of American history.

Paul Taylor brings world premiere to St. Louis

Nov 18, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - Paul Taylor is in St. Louis this week to direct the world premiere of Beloved Renegade, a work for 15 dancers inspired by the 19th century American poet Walt Whitman. The motivation for the dance was Leaves of Grass , a volume of 12 free-verse poems that exalt the body and soul as one.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - The Fish Fall in Love -In my experience, movies built on the importance of making good food are likely to have some serious soul. Think back to Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) and Stanley Tucci's Big Night (1996) and Germany's Bella Martha (2001). You can add this movie to that list.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 17, 2008 - Donald Finkel, a celebrated poet and one of the most luminous stars in the galaxy of the English Department at Washington University in St. Louis, died Saturday of Alzheimer's Disease at Schuetz Manor, an assisted living facility in St. Louis County. He was 79 years old. The university lowered its flag Tuesday in his honor. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 12, at 11:30 a.m. in the Women's Building on the Washington University campus.

Collecting in the Heartland: Board games

Nov 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 17, 2008 - Americans have been fascinated with - some might even say addicted to - board games for nearly 200 years. But the modern era of gaming probably began less than 80 years ago, with the mass marketing of an exciting new real estate game originally conceived by an Illinois stenographer named Elizabeth Magie.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 17, 2008 - If you love the rock music of the 1960s, particularly the mellow sounds that emerged from Southern California, you should enjoy "The Wrecking Crew."

SLIFF: 'Special'

Nov 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 17, 2008 - "Special" is something of a one-joke movie, but it's a pretty good - and ultimately touching - one. The hero, Les Franken (Michael Rapaport) is living a simple but dull life reading comic books and working in traffic-meter violations when he signs on to test a new anti-depressant product called "Special." Unfortunately, there are side effects.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 16, 2008 - The new paintings by Max Cole at Schmidt Contemporary Art are everything one would expect out of the 70-something artist: graceful, contemplative and minimalist without being cold or controlling.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 15, 2008 - "Kassim the Dream" is an documentary film that works on two levels, first as an intimate look inside the private life of an athlete at the peak of his abilities, and second, as a harrowing examination of a serious human rights crisis. One aspect is uplifting, the other devastating; By the end of this exceptional film, the two threads have been sewn together into a single powerful story.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 15, 2008 - Coming-of-age films are a staple of film festivals, so much so that it becomes difficult to say anything new about them. But while childhood experiences are universal, they're also - like Tolstoy's unhappy families - unique, which is why filmmakers keep returning to them.

Helping families, using jazz

Nov 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 15, 2008 - Jazz history has deep roots in the rich soil of Missouri. Our river system worked as a musical highway bringing the sounds of the riverboats into the streets of the city. Far removed from its "Golden Age," the new millennium finds the art form sustaining itself through education.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - Just because you're still trying to figure out how to catch every film at the festival this weekend (Let's see, if I can just teleport from Plaza Frontenac to the Tivoli in time for "Mishima" and then go back in time to catch "Song Sung Blue"...) doesn't mean that there isn't any other film news to think about. For instance...

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - Kim Lowell writes on her bed, surrounded by mountains of laundry from her 9-year-old son and 3-year-old triplets. She writes about voting, her non-tattooed husband, their lives together and their four children.

She writes from her St. Louis home while the kids are at school. But from that place, she connects with moms around the country. Her posts, and those of other women who blog about motherhood, ring with humor and exhaustion.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - It's a busy time for Walter Bargen, who is traveling the state as Missouri's first-ever poet laureate. Through readings and workshops, he's had a forum to discuss his beloved craft and help others improve their writing. But when it comes to creating his own poetry...

"Isn't that the irony?" Bargen said. "I hardly have any time for writing, and that's a frustrating element for me."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 13, 2008 - Only a mixed review will do for Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway as a young woman who has been in and out of rehab for a decade. Part of the problem comes from novice writer Jenny Lumet, daughter of the late director Sidney Lumet. While much of the dialogue and action rings true, some of it strains credulity.

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